Diffusers -- Safe or Not?
Updated: Jan 7
In the wellness world diffusers are TRENDING, they are the new miracle treatment much like tea tree oil and vitamin c. However, are they actually safe? The concept behind diffusers seems benign – soothing smells that help you unwind, de-stress and sleep! What isn't to love about that. To understand the potential harm, we must first understand how diffusers work.
Once a diffuser is plugged in, the electric charge causes a ceramic disc to vibrate, these vibrations breakdown the essential oils into particles which are mixed with water and released into the air as aromatic mist. Those particles enter your nose and lungs while you breathe. Frequently in the explanation of how diffusers work what happens to the essential oils themselves are not discussed.
When the essential oil is diffused – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are released into the air. These emissions are especially irritating to the lungs for people with known respiratory conditions such as asthma. However, they can also be irritating for people who do not have a history of lung conditions. They have a similar effect to indoor pollution. Some essential oil, when diffused, are broken down into terpene, toluene and benzene (like eucalyptus and lavender) these broken-down chemicals are known to cause shortness of breath and wheezing.
Finally, essential oils are not regulated meaning that you never know what is actually being diffused and how concentrated the oil is. Overall, I think it's best to use diffusers at a minimum or not at all until there is more research and regulations around them. They aren't only potentially harmful to humans but can be to our furry friends as well.